A Gippsland restaurant has been found guilty of exploiting Victoria’s child employment laws.
The Three Double 8 Zero Pizza Bar & Grill in Paynesville was fined $4000 for 40 breaches, including from employing under-15s without a permit to breaking shift and rest break rules.
The matters first came to light in 2022, when Wage Inspectorate Victoria began its investigation. It was found that despite being contacted by the regulator about child employment conditions, it continued to breach conditions.
The offences occurred between 22 May 2022 and 5 February 2023.
In sentencing, Magistrate Carolyn Howe noted the concern of a community member for one child’s safety in particular.
Despite the concern and the breaches, the magistrate did not record a conviction citing the restaurant’s early guilty plea and its contribution to the Paynesville community.
The restaurant pleaded guilty to:
- Employing five children under 15 without a permit on 161 occasions.
- Employing children for more hours than they are permitted to work.
- Employing children later than 9pm.
- Failing to provide rest breaks of 30-minutes for every three hours worked.
- Failing to provide a break of at least 12 hours between shifts.
“It beggars belief” that the business continued to employ children for two months after an investigation started,” Commissioner of Wage Inspectorate Victoria Robert Hortle said.
“It shows a disregard for the law and the potential risks to children.
“This matter serves as a warning to any business shirking child employment laws.
Not only do we have officers inspecting businesses across Victoria, but we have a community that is very protective of children’s wellbeing and will let us know when they see something of concern, as happened in this case.
“Working can provide valuable experience for kids but there’s risks involved, which is why a business needs a licence to employ kids under 15.
“Kids under 15 are still developing and don’t have the stamina of adults, so they need rest breaks, a suitable gap between shifts and they shouldn’t be working late.
“The message is simple – getting informed is the first step to complying.”
In Victoria, employing a child under 15 without a licence is a crime, however, due to the streamlined child employment licensing system that came into effect on 1 July 2023, employers can employ multiple children under one licence.
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